Understanding the Four-Two Backgammon Opening Roll

The four-two opening roll is considered by many as the second best opening roll in backgammon. Come to think about it, the principles behind the recommended play for this opening roll are quite similar to that of the three-one opening roll.

The recommended backgammon play for this opening roll is to do a 8/4 and 6/4. We'll discuss the different aspects of this move with regard to the four-two opening roll.

This play on the opening roll secures the four-point on the home board. The principle behind this move on the four-two opening roll is that by building home board points you're giving your opponent a tough time entering from the bar. That means your opponent will be forced to settle for a conservative backgammon strategy while you get to play more aggressively.

In backgammon, the aggressive player often gets to move a lot quicker and no sooner will you find yourself in the lead in the pip count. The four-two opening roll gives backgammon players a great opportunity to do this.

The four point in this opening roll acts like a five-point block but is admittedly a bit less effective. It also works as a good landing spot for incoming friendly checkers and is well poised to attack any enemy blot on your home board.

By playing this move on the opening roll we are setting up other strategic opportunities. Two of the three most effective primes (a six-point prime) would involve building a point on the four-point. Since the four-two opening roll gives us a chance to build on that point early in the game, we'll have a nice head start.

Given the choice between a six-one opening roll and a four-two opening roll, a lot of experts would lean toward the four-two opening roll. Yes, it is true that with a six-one opening roll you can easily make a little prime to hold the opponent's back men (and makes a six on the dice useless when talking about moving the opponent's back men). A six-one opening roll also makes it easy for us to build a neat prime.

That having been said, a four-two opening roll has two advantages that seem to find greater favor. The first one we've already mentioned (i.e. building home board points in the opening roll). The other advantage is quite critical in backgammon. A four-two gives you a chance to take a checker off the huge stack on the six-point. There are only two opening rolls that allow you to do that, a four-two and a three-one.

An opening roll of four-two is a particularly powerful opening roll. Understanding the principles behind our play puts you ahead in wins.